Ohio transit attorney eating through BART tab for ongoing labor negotiations 

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  • Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train travels towards downtown Oakland on August 2, 2013 in Oakland, California.
BART has paid about $3,400 a day for an Ohio-based transit attorney to represent the agency in its ongoing labor negotiations, which appear to be heading off the rails again with a second strike looming next week.

In October 2012, BART hired Thomas Hock of Veolia Transportation as a labor consultant. By the time negotiations with the agency’s unions began April 1 — by which time Hock had been hired on as BART’s chief negotiator with Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, the two largest unions — he had already racked up more than $82,500 in bills, records show.

Hock’s contract allows him to be paid a maximum of $399,000. He was halfway there by June 11 — almost three weeks before BART’s workers went on strike July 1 — with $198,400.12 billed to BART for 58 days’ worth of work, or an average of $3,400 per day, records show.

That tally includes his $350-per-hour consulting fee, along with a hotel room in Union Square, first-class airfare and wine at East Bay restaurants, according to records.

Hock’s tally for meals, flights and accommodations hit $36,175 by mid-June, according to records. That’s about what an entry-level BART custodian takes home in a year after taxes, union members say.

Reached Monday afternoon, Hock said that any alcohol expenses should have been subtracted from his reimbursements by BART and that any first-class tickets were “automatic upgrades” from the airlines.

Most of Hock’s wine purchases were not charged to BART, but a few, such as two glasses at Trader Vic’s on June 5, snuck through.

“They can go back and adjust it; it’s not a problem,” Hock said of the wine.

It’s not typical BART policy to reimburse for alcohol or meals in excess of $50. Members of BART’s board of directors, for example, can charge the district for meals but not for drinks, according to the agency’s guidelines.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Monday that Hock’s expenses would be adjusted accordingly.

Meanwhile, little progress has been made at the negotiating table since an August strike was averted by a 60-day cooling-off period ordered by a judge at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown.

The two sides even disagree on how long the new contract should be. BART is offering its unions 2.5 percent annual raises over a four-year contract; the unions, who say that bump would leave wages flat when coupled with increased pension and health care costs, want 4.5 percent raises each year over a three-year deal.

As of mid-June, the agency had shelled out $198,401 to Ohio-based transit attorney Thomas P. Hock for 463.5 hours’ of work.

$350 an hour for 463.50 hours: $162,225

Expenses: $36,175.21

Hotel: $7,553.61

Meals: $3558.35

Airfare: $20,605.77

SOURCE: BART

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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